Manager Effectiveness Index (MEI)

Performance reviews tend to be more heavily weighted to focus downward. (“I’m your manager, and here is what I think of your performance.”) There may be some mechanism for subordinates to provide feedback upward, but it often doesn’t carry the same importance. And that’s how bad bosses often stay in their roles.

One example of an effective model comes from Aron Ain, the CEO of Ultimate Kronos Group (known as UKG), an HR software company based in Lowell, Mass. The company created the “Manager Effectiveness Index” (MEI). All managers in the company get an MEI score that’s rated by their team members based on how effective they are in their role. The score is derived from 19 specific questions that employees on a team are asked twice a year, including: Does your manager have a deep concern about your career and your future? Does your manager discuss with you what your personal ambitions and goals are?

“Some people say that twice a year is too much,” Ain told me. “My attitude is that if you’re working for a terrible manager, I can’t wait up to a whole year to fix that problem.”

Ain said the new surveys closed a gap in understanding at UKG — a gap that likely still exists at companies that rely on employees’ “engagement score” with the organization as a measure of morale. “Many managers used to assume that if the engagement score on their team was really high, then they must have been doing a good job,” Ain explained. For UKG, he said, an engagement score “doesn’t measure effectively the relationship between the employee and their manager, and that’s what we were missing.”

Assessing that relationship is a step that organizations can and should take to ensure that there is greater transparency into the quality of managers in the organization, and that those managers have the proper balance of managing up and down.

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